Three Things This Week
1. How Your Teen Thinks
What it is: A recent article by Jerusha Clark looks at the neuroscience of teen brains and how to adapt one’s parenting tactics to be more effective.
Why it’s valuable: Ever been baffled, frustrated, or annoyed by how your teen(s) thinks, reacts, or views the world? There is a gap between adults and teens, but thanks to Clark’s research, we now know it’s not because they’re the worst and want to ruin our day. Clark helps us better understand their psychology and physiology and all the perfectly natural (but exasperating) changes they’re going through. She also offers extremely practical tips for responding in ways that help and challenge teens without overwhelming them. We also highly recommend her book Your Teenager Is Not Crazy for anyone who interacts directly with teens.
2. Billie Eilish
What it is: Currently opening for Florence & the Machine, Billie Eilish is an up-and-coming artist to pay attention to.
Why she’s taking off: At 16 years old, Eilish is creative, talented, intentional, and different. Though Gen Z still eats up chart-topping artists and tracks, many of them often crave substance, meaning, and true artistry, things Eilish is full of. With 132M streams of her breakout song on Spotify, a song on the soundtracks of each season of 13 Reasons Why, and a collab with Khalid (which has 114M views on YouTube), she’s making her mark on the music scene…and on Gen Z’s hearts and minds. If your teens know and like her music, ask them why they’re drawn to it. Then take some time to familiarize yourself with her lyrics and her style in order to engage in deep conversations with your teens about her music.
What it is: This year’s Streamy Awards aired live on YouTube on Oct. 22, celebrating online streamers, gamers, and influencers.
Why they’re informative: Ever heard of The Try Guys? How about David Dobrik, Poppy, James Charles, or Tana Mongeau? Ask your teens if they have and what they know about them. (If they haven’t, ask them who their fav YouTuber/streamer is and why.) Surprised by their answers? If so, watching the Streamys could be a good intro to the streaming world and the people/personas influencing millions of teens around the world every day. And if the YouTube-verse flabbergasts you (as it should—users view over 1 billion hours of videoeach day…as of early 2017!), OR if you’re realizing you don’t know nearly enough about this world, this article is a helpful overview of this year’s show and contains links to articles about each of the stars who participated.
Going Off-Grid…and Paying the Consequences
Recently, my phone went dark. Not literally, but figuratively since I intentionally went somewhere without WiFi or cell service for 2 whole days *gasp!* I know, not a common occurrence these days, but let me tell you, it was glorious. To not feel the compulsion to check my phone every so often, to be forced to rest in the fact that if work issues arose, they’d be dealt with soon but not immediately, to simply be somewhere and enjoy my surroundings—what a respite. It was good for my soul.
But then, I came back.
No, it wasn’t the end of the world. BUT I did have over 100 work emails (I haven’t even been brave enough to check my personal accounts yet), some voicemails and texts, and some social media messages and posts to attend to (not to mention timing out on a couple of rounds of the one game I play). And it felt like all the soul healing that had happened was reversed and then some. Back to the grind, to reality, to all the little things demanding my attention. I had been free, but I was chained once again.
Luckily, I’m an adult who loves Jesus, so I can deal with this in healthy ways, as well as ask my Savior to do what I can’t. But it made me think about what today’s teens and young adults—many of whom barely remember a world without smartphones and definitely not one without Internet—go through if they ever choose (or let’s be real, are forced) to go offline.
Almost every facet of their lives revolves around the Internet and their phones, so when we tell them to “unplug” or turn their phones off every now and then, is it any wonder they look at us with utter astonishment? The repercussions of turning off their phones could be 10, 20, even 100 times worse than they were for me, so why should they do it?
And yet, as bad as it is to be hit in the face with reality, it’s still worth it to unplug for a time. So, as loving adults dealing with teens and 20-somethings, let’s not simply tell them to turn their phones off; let’s accompany it with practical strategies for dealing with the aftermath, for combating FOMO, for calming angry friends, and for taking full advantage of the healing potential that comes with unplugging and letting go.
9 PREMIUM INSIGHTS
A broader look at the world that teens inhabit.
Skim our summary or click the links to read more.
Engage your teens in conversation about their world.
They said it best:
1. “I told the Ministry of Foreign Affairs it was a matter of humanity. I did not care if I lost my job. Anyone else would have done the same thing if they were in my place.”
–Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who wrote visas for Jews escaping Nazi oppression through Lithuania, in spite of his government’s reluctance or refusal to officially help them. The interesting thing is that there were many other people in a similar place that didn’t do what he did. Because of his courage, as many as 40,000 lives may have been saved. What do your teens think about this kind of moral courage to do what’s ultimately right even when it goes against what they’re told to do? How do they navigate that distinction between obedience to earthly authority and doing what’s morally right as defined by God?
2. “Submit yourself to the boredom, the refining fire of nonperformance, don’t be in a hurry. A lot is going on when you don’t think anything is going on.”
–Eugene Peterson, theologian and author of The Message, who passed away this week.
3. This is only one organization’s opinion, but this company has put together a fairly good list of the top 100 websites that have shaped the internet as we know it today. There are the big ones that you’d expect (Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook), the notorious ones (Pornhub, Chatroulette, The Pirate Bay), and the old ones that teens might not even know about (Ask Jeeves, Alta Vista). It’s worth a skim, just to see how sites that we might not have thought about for years do have a direct connection to some of the web’s biggest cultural norms today. It’s also a chance for teens to think about the future of the web and what sites they would want to see a legacy for in the future and what sites they would want to change or get rid of so that they don’t affect the internet’s future.
4. Google has released a new education program for 3rd-6th graders with the aim of helping them learn how to be good digital citizens. They aim to teach skills such as identifying “bad actors,” hackers, and schemers. It’s a laudable goal and a necessary skill in our current digital economy, BUT there’s some dissent over whether Google should be the ones teaching this. For one, they’ve had some trouble themselves with not being the best online citizen. Also, it feels like a bit of a promotional package to get kids looped into Google’s ecosystem early on. Today’s teens are some of the oldest digital natives. What do they think about teaching digital citizenship to their younger siblings? Is Google a good fit or should the job fall to someone else? What role could they play, if any?
5. This post is over five years old, but it still provides incredible insight on all of the worst reasons why we post things on social media. It refers to Facebook, but this is 2018, so it requires a bit of culture translation ;). Anytime it mentions FB, just substitute Instagram or Snapchat (or whatever your teens’ fav social platform is). The 5 bad motivations it identifies for posting on social media are: Image Crafting, Narcissism, Attention Craving, Jealousy Inducing, and/or Loneliness. Ask your teens if they can relate to any of these feels when they are posting on Insta. Why do they think posting will make them feel better? What are some other activities they could try instead?
6. Christie’s auction house has just sold the first painting that was made by artificial intelligence. There’s plenty to discuss here with your art students. Can a computer truly make art? The group behind the AI program borrowed a lot of code from another programmer. Should the original programmer get more credit or is this more like sampling in music or borrowing another artists style but making your own work? Is this the future of art or the end of it?
7. Red Dead Redemption 2, the highly anticipated follow up to 2010’s Red Dead Redemption, was released this week to glowing reviews. Players praised its highly detailed world, endless possibilities for exploration, and thoroughly involved story (60 hours of story gameplay). However, the game is basically Grand Theft Auto V in the Wild West. So it would be reasonable to expect a lot of violence, sexual references, and other adult themes. Ask your gamers what’s more appealing about exploring a video game world instead of the real world (unless they are physically unable to do so). Do they think their answer is a good reason to play games instead of doing actual activities?
8. Fortnite’s latest pseudo-story is the addition of monsters that spring out of a roving purple cube (which was their previous “story” addition). It marks the first time that players will have to contend with game enemies trying to kill them as well as fellow players. It’s not a real story, but it’s just the right amount of novelty that keeps players coming back for more and more.
Tip of the Week
9. This week’s tip is simple, but not easy: Don’t be afraid to admit you’re wrong. About a year ago, Joshua Harris, of I Kissed Dating Goodbye fame, gave a TED talk where he admitted that he may have not known everything about relationships when he was 21 years old. He has since decided that it would be best to cease all publication of the book. He plans to release a documentary about his journey next year. Admitting that we don’t have it all figured out is hard for us humans and, I think, even harder as parents. But it is such an important skill for teens to learn. Joshua Harris is a huge anomaly in our culture to admit that he might have made a mistake, let alone take some kind of action to fix it. So who else can they learn this from but us? It can be difficult to do, but admitting to our children that we have made mistakes and asking for their forgiveness can go a long way in showing them how to be vulnerable in relationships and how to be responsible for their own actions, even when in a position of authority.
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team
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